Celebrations far and wide
Unlike in the past when only the Cantonment area would be soaked in Christmas festivities, the celebrations have now spread across the City.
Nonetheless, the festivities are largely visible in the City’s eastern parts which have large Christian population of various denominations and languages.
But as more and more Christian migrants, including ethnic minorities from Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and other northeastern states choose to reside in the City, the celebrations are becoming more colourful.
But it is not just in Christian homes that the Star of Bethlehem shines. Many Hindu homes also have celebratory lights and decorations, thanks to pressure from children.
In the Cantonment area, Christmas celebrations were first handed down by the British troops who would sing Christmas carols, exemplifying the spirit of the season as they marched to Trinity Church from their barracks in South Parade (now MG Road), Residency Road, Old Madras Road and Airport Road. They were preceded by their own brass bands.
Trinity Church was the Garrison’s church for Protestant Christians. For the Catholics, the venue was St Patrick’s Church.
At the church, the troops would stand to attention and be received by the Resident and Collector who also attended the service. After services, the officers would gather at the Unit Services Club (now Bangalore Club) and the Bowring Institute. Others would make a beeline to Basco’s on Brigade Road and Funnels on MG Road.
The traditional menu for the day would begin with eggs, ham, sausages, baked beans and coffee (Polson’s) for breakfast. Lunch consisted of roast turkey with stuffing and potatoes, followed by Yorkshire pudding and wine.
For tea, it was plum cake, kul-kuls, rose cookies and dhol-dhol. In fact, all these sweets remain popular in Bangalore even today — speaking volumes about the City’s heritage. The dinner consisted of roast duck or chicken, with vegetables and trimmings, plum pudding and cream, cheese and wine.
There was partying throughout the season right up to the New Year. Preparations began several days in advance and the entire family would participate. Christmas tree, cribs, stars, midnight mass and charity were all part of Christmas festivities and the tradition continues.
In terms of demographics, Mangalorean catholics are concentrated in Yeswantpur and Mathikere, Kannada Catholics in Silvepura and Hesaraghatta, Tamil Christians in the Cantonment area and Malayali Christians in Bangalore East. Each linguistic group has its own traditional way of celebrating the festival.